Lean Left - Medemer [PLN Records - 2020]Medemer is a splendidly noise-up, angular-to-playful yet always creative example improv/avant jazz craft. Lean Left is a four-piece project that brings together respected Norwegian drummer/ sometime bandleader Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, Terrie Ex and Andy Moor- on guitars- from avant Dutch punk collective The Ex, and respected Rhode Island. Improviser Ken Vandermark on Sax & Bd Clarinet. This new album sees the collective offer up seventy-two minutes worth of music, and for such a lengthy album it certainly keeps you on your toes- as the four-piece pinball back & forth between noise bound bombardments, seared up groove, and lightly harmonic touched jam-outs.
The release appears in the form of a CD on PLN Records, which is Nilssen-Love's own label. The CD comes presented in what has become the labels house style glossy & sturdy gatefold CD sleeve-this features a bold pink texts, and black ‘n’ white cover- with inside nice up close & personal shorts of the project in full searing ‘n sweaty flow.
The album is a live recording made in 2018 when the band played at Pardon To Tu in Warshaw Poland- and you get a nice balance of crowd sound & seared-yet well-defined instrumentation. The seventy-two-minute set is broken up into six parts- I’d hate to say formal tracks, as the sound here is a fairly lose & at times agitated/shifting in its feel- though it never feels random or free-fall chaos, there aways shape/ meaning no matter how intense it gets.
The whole thing opens with a wonderful taut & tense weave of baying ‘n’ scrabbling guitar work- that has touches of both manic slide, discordant blues- and general wiry squabble. Around the eight & a bit minute we move from the guitar focus to horn & rapidly cluttering spoon like percussion- as we move on crashing cymbal & drum set traveling occur, as the horn gets wonderfully rapid & searing. The longest section/ part here is number three- this comes in at fifteen seconds shy of the nineteen-minute mark- it begins with some loose-yet-angular guitar strum that has quite a Captain Beefheart vibe to it- as we move on the guitar breaks down slightly for the horn & percussion to set in- as things start to swing between nicely slamming & bombastic, and almost sniffing ‘n’ honking groove. Along the way we do get a few formally harmonic & calmer playing- showing the group can also be nuanced & atmospheric too- but mostly the focus here angularity & creative, largely successful discord.
In the last few years Paal Nilssen-Love has been connected with some of the more creative & firey jazz records around- and Medemer he’s done it again- if you enjoy noised-up, yet perfectly executed jazz that’s playful & searing- this CD is a no-brainer!.Roger Batty